The Friends of Dudley Peninsula Parks have voted unanimously to suspend its 2019 program of works on land managed by the Department for Environment and Water.
FDPP president Janine Mackintosh said the decision was taken to highlight the group’s serious concerns about large-scale lodge accommodation proposed for Flinders Chase National Park.
“The decision is also in support of the action taken by our colleagues in the Friends of Parks KI Western Districts,” Ms Mackintosh said.
“The Friends of Dudley Peninsula Parks actively support the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. Many members have walked the trail. We welcome its focus on the natural splendour of Flinders Chase, plus the impetus it gives to existing island businesses.
“The original trail concept included provision for discreet cabin or ‘glamping-style’ accommodation in close proximity to the trail and making use of existing infrastructure and access tracks.
“However, the proposal for two ten-building lodges in highly sensitive and visible coastal sites up to three kilometres from the trail is clearly at odds with the original trail concept.
“Our group is concerned about the serious ecological impact of these lodges and associated roads and tracks.
“No less alarming is the damage inflicted on the wilderness character of these pristine shores.
“The clifftop lodges would undermine the elemental experience the wilderness trail seeks to provide – as well as spoil the coastline’s visual appeal for other park users. On this basis the FDPP opposes this radical proposal.”
The group wrote to Environment Minister David Speirs on December 17 to express its views, and as of yet had not received a reply, she said.
“The FDPP decision to suspend the works program of works has not been taken lightly. For more than 15 years this group has provided volunteer effort and financial assistance to the island’s parks.
“Every year our volunteers devote hundreds of unpaid hours to important field works. We are self-funded. As such the group purchases everything from gloves and seedlings to machinery without any direct government assistance.
“We do this work in close cooperation with the Department of Environment and Water. Our aim is to improve the well-being of parks and the visitor experiences in our natural areas.
“Throughout our history we have been a non-political group. However, as the changes proposed for Flinders Chase strike at the heart of what our parks are for, we have no choice but to take this difficult decision to suspend our operations within DEW-managed lands.
“We look forward to resuming our program following a proper review of this accommodation proposal and a return to the original KI Wilderness Trail concept.”
Friends of Parks update
The Board of Friends of Parks, covering 130 groups and affiliates in SA, has now made a statement about commercial operations in parks in general and the actions of the KI Friends groups.
“Friends of Parks believes that commercial developments in parks should be consistent with the Park’s Management Plan and only occur after careful consideration of the environmental impact and full public consultation,” the statement reads.
“Friends of Parks are a strong and respected working partner of DEW. The FOP Board has an expectation that there will be early and transparent communication with local Friends of Parks member groups when developments in their Parks are considered.
“We support the right of Parks groups – as independent groups – to have at times a differing view on developments in their parks and for the Group to readily express these views.”
Friends of Parks KI Western Districts spokesperson Bev Maxwell said the Department for Environment and Water agreed to facilitate the Western Districts group to make a submission to the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) currently considering the Flinders Chase Development, however the panel allegedly would not accept a submission.
SCAP’s findings are due sometime this month.
“The Board is disappointed that early and transparent communication with local Friends of Parks member groups and the local community did not occur regarding this development,” Ms Maxwell said.
“As a consequence FOPKIWD have withdrawn their labour in the park and in preparation for the Flinders Chase Centenary Celebration.
“If this continues, then in support, the President of FOP Inc. board will also withdraw from the steering committee for the Centenary Celebration.
“While the board has not supported universal withdrawal of labour by Friends groups on this issue, the board is clear that each member group has a right to choose to do so, or it will support FOPKIWD in other ways that are thought to be helpful
“It is noted that Australian Walking Company (AWC) stated they would like to actively engage with Friends of Parks groups on Kangaroo Island and are actively seeking ways in which this could occur. Friends groups may consider talking to AWC about this possibility.”